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Experts question North Korea role in WannaCry cyber attack

19 May 2017

The so-called WannaCry ransomware has lines of code that are identical to the malware used by a group of hackers called Lazarus that have been connected to North Korea in the past.

Shadow Brokers, the group that has taken credit for that leak, threatened on Tuesday to release more recent code to enable hackers to break into the world's most widely used computers, software and phones. The Sony Pictures hack in 2014 and another attack on a Bangladesh bank in 2016 have both been attributed to the Lazarus.

In a blog post detailing how the attack started and spread, Avast explains that the ransomware spread by replicating itself rapidly from one computer to the next on a network, especially in organisations.

More cyberattacks could be in the pipeline after the global havoc caused by the Wannacry ransomware, a South Korean cybersecurity expert warned today as fingers pointed at the North.

FireEye Inc (FEYE.O), another large cyber security firm, said it was also investigating, but it was cautious about drawing a link to North Korea.

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"Attribution can be hard".

After days of disruptions affecting networks worldwide, a top U.S. official said the number of computers affected had reached 300,000, but that infection rates had slowed.

Bossert said that paying the ransom provided no guarantee files would be unlocked.

The announcement published Tuesday is another twist in the developing story of the global attack, and challenges statements from Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs that the attacks were tied to North Korea.

Kaspersky Lab stated that it is important for researchers around the world to investigate the similarities of the code to find the origin of the WannaCry cyberattack.

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North Korea's state newspaper has acknowledged that the world was "astonished" by the "unprecedented attack" of the WannaCry computer worm.

But Kaspersky said false flags within WannaCry were "possible" but "improbable", as the shared code was removed from later versions. Prior to the meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the U.S. will not be holding any talks with North Korea unless it sees a total stop to the regimes nuclear process and testing.

That is a paltry amount of profit given that a ransomware attack of this magnitude could have been expected to pull in at least $60 million for the crooks, and risk-modeling analysts believe the costs from the attack could reach $4 billion worldwide.

So far, the attacker behind WannaCry has made more than $49,000 (£37,900). That could also explain why the gang's handling of ransom payments seems so diffident, nearly like an afterthought. "In one of the cases, the attack was traced back to early April". "Clearly, there is a lot more leverage that China has, and we would like China to use", he said.The Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006 and has stiffened them in response to its five nuclear tests and two long-range rocket launches. The small test transactions detected on the hackers' Bitcoin account could support the theory of a test run that was supposed to be fairly small but quickly got out of hand.

The Kill Switch mentioned is a domain name which WannaCry would check for existence to decide if to keep spreading.

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